The Mario Kart ride at the center of the new Super Nintendo World theme park is built on its own engine, according to Universal theme park executives. This means the ride can be updated over time just like a game, bringing with it all sorts of interesting implications.
Since its opening a few weeks ago, Super Nintendo World has impressed visitors with the clever way it brings Mario Kart and other games to life. If visitors buy special Power-Up Bands, they can even participate in a variety of interactive activities and unlock a hidden final boss encounter with Bowser Jr. Still, the experience may eventually bore repeat visitors; this is where the Mario Kart ride's game engine can play a key role in sustaining interest over time.
In a press conference tied to the opening of Super Nintendo World, Universal executives noted that the Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge attraction runs using a game engine. This means that anyone could, in theory, experience parts of the attraction remotely. While the public will likely never get access to this engine, it would allow Universal to easily modify the Mario Kart ride at any time.
This could keep the ride experience fresh over time, as new elements from the Mario Kart series could be introduced every few months. A strategy like this could also help to keep the experience from becoming outdated when Mario Kart 9 eventually comes out. Another benefit of the game engine is that Universal could tweak it over time to adjust the ride's difficulty, ensuring that visitors have a fair chance of winning their races against Team Koopa.
It's exciting to imagine how rides based in game engines could help with future Super Nintendo World expansions, as well. Rumors indicate a Donkey Kong Country zone will be the next addition to the park, and it's not hard to imagine how a minecart-themed roller coaster could benefit from being built on a game engine. Members of the extended Kong family could be added to the attraction over time, providing incentive for repeat ride-throughs in order to see new cameos.
That said, not every aspect of Super Nintendo World can be updated so easily. The Yoshi's Adventure ride is a much more traditional affair than the Mario Kart ride, as visitors board slow-moving vehicles to view dioramas depicting Yoshi and friends. As this isn't built on a game engine, Universal would have to invest more if they wanted to update it at any point.
As its name implies, Planet Coaster is a simulation game based around theme park management. Players can build and manage virtual parks using pre-existing rides, or build their own. While fans have been impressed by the Super Nintendo World themed land currently open at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, that attraction does not include any traditional roller coasters. It's no shocker, then, that fans would be eager to imagine how a coaster might look with Mario theming.
A Super Mario fan has created a Mario-themed roller coaster using Planet Coaster. The virtual ride is extremely ambitious, taking riders through a variety of classic Mario set pieces.
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